Renewal SA is set to raise the bar on inner metropolitan living yet again, with the state government announcing today it will purchase the former West End Brewery site at Thebarton.
The landmark Port Road site will be reactivated into a $1 billion modern, mixed-use community, catering for more than 1,000 new homes - incorporating at least 20 per cent affordable housing.
The world-class precinct will also present significant opportunities for commercial, hospitality, retail and government tenancies, which along with greenspace activations, will create a bustling new economy on the city’s fringe.
Renewal SA will act as master developer of the 8.4-hectare community and work in partnership with industry to deliver the project after being selected by Lion Beer Wine & Spirits Pty Ltd (Lion) as its preferred proponent during a market Expression of Interest process.
Adoption of a government-led delivery model will provide widespread opportunities for private sector participation in planning, design, civil works, development, building and construction activities while ensuring best-for-state community outcomes.
Renewal SA has begun active discussions with the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) on funding opportunities specific to the ground-breaking Thebarton development in a bid to assist South Australians in their pursuit of home ownership.
This includes talks to form a bilateral agreement that would cut red tape for Community Housing Providers, identify areas of social and affordable housing need, unlock government land to assist delivery and expedite planning approvals.
Further benefits from the high-level vision for the former brewery site include:
- creation of an estimated 4,000 FTE jobs during construction peaking at 1,200 per year, plus approximately 187 new ongoing retail and hospitality jobs
- investment of around $1 billion in public and private construction and development value over the life of the project
- significant areas of public open space as part of an enhanced River Torrens linear park, incorporating the State Heritage-listed Riverbank Garden
- continuous celebration of the site’s history and heritage with the possible adaptive reuse of the high-profile heritage buildings such as the Walkerville Brewhouse, and activation of the area around Colonel William Light’s first Adelaide home, as well as recognition of Kaurna culture.
Detailed master planning will inform the final land use mix and configuration of the new community, along with feedback from stakeholder and community consultation. It will be people-focused in its intent and aim to exemplify the seven Elements of Great Places–equity, identity, greenery, urbanity, mobility, wellness and resilience–as defined by the United Nations.
Located just 2km from the CBD and 7km from Adelaide Airport, the site boasts a highly visible 250-metre frontage to arterial Port Road, and has convenient access to public transport options, the city’s major hospitals and universities, parklands and recreational venues such as Adelaide Entertainment Centre and Coopers Stadium.
As part of its presale preparations, Lion lodged an application for a Code Amendment to rezone the land to a combination of Urban Corridor (Boulevard) and Open Space, which would allow for a myriad of future uses. The site is currently predominantly zoned for Strategic Employment.
Much of the site has already been cleared and remediated by Lion, meaning development can occur quickly. Renewal SA will commence detailed master planning early next year with civil works to follow that process. It will also begin gauging interest from private sector developers and investors, along with CHPs looking to partner with it on affordable rental projects in 2024.
Indicative timelines have construction and property sales starting in 2025, with the first residents moving in by 2027. Key civic spaces and public amenity will also be prioritised within the first stages of development.
Housing and Urban Development Minister Nick Champion said the strategic acquisition of the Brewery site solved a number of state government requirements while providing major scope to rigorously pursue its agenda to increase housing supply along key corridors.
“It is almost unheard of to get an infill site of this scale in any capital city, so we seized the opportunity,” Minister Champion said.
“It is our intention to create a world-class precinct – one which is a catalyst for further local investment and drives housing affordability. We will draw inspiration from other high-quality urban infill projects like Bowden.”
Renewal SA Chief Executive Chris Menz said extensive opportunities for development and construction industry partners to bring their specialist knowledge and innovative solutions to the project would be announced in the coming months.
“We will be looking to leverage the resources and expertise of the private sector including development partners, investors, designers, consultants and builders, to deliver this world-class vision.
“Renewal SA has solid experience in creating investment ready, well-planned, industry leading communities for the state and we intend to secure the most successful and proven development partners to deliver each component of the project – including residential, retail and commercial - through an open competitive process. We’ll be looking for the best of local and interstate experience and investment and it’s my firm view that great outcomes are achieved when government and private sector work hand-in-hand, which we have seen at the likes of Bowden, Tonsley Innovation District, and Playford Alive.”
The former brewery site is home to several structures of heritage significance that will be preserved in accordance with requirements of respective state and local heritage acts.
State Heritage Places on the site include:
- Walkerville Brewhouse (including Copper Kettle, which is currently in storage)
- footings of Colonel William Light’s Cottage (Thebarton Cottage)
- the 6,828sqm Riverbank Garden fronting the River Torrens.
The brewery’s former Electricity Transformer building and the plaque depicting the site of Colonel Light’s cottage (currently in storage) are Local Heritage Places.
Thorough consideration will be given during the master planning process to highlight these assets. Renewal SA will also engage the Kaurna community as part of its commitment to reconciliation to ensure Culture and Country are appropriately interwoven into the project.
The much-loved Riverbank Christmas Lights Display, on the south bank of the River Torrens, will also be retained. The festive event attracts about 300,000 visitors annually and is currently under the custodianship of the City of West Torrens - an arrangement that is expected to continue.
The West End Brewery closed in June 2021, marking the end of 135 years of brewing operations on the famed site. Beer was first brewed there in 1886 as the Torrenside Brewery.